The 2008 MotoGP World Championship season comes to a close this weekend at the Circuito de Ricardo Tormo, just outside the picturesque, seaside city of Valencia.
A tumultuous year to say the least, with official changes being announced for every category in Grand Prix racing, including the bombshell that Bridgestone will be the sole tire supplier for all 800cc machines in the top class. Effectively, this ends the blue sky engineering that has always dominated the prototype racing in GP, that propelled the Factories into creating whatever they could in order to win, with whomever they worked with. Now I fear that everyone will be targeting the same formula, "build a Bridgestone bike". And they will all be Bridgestone bikes . . . . what remains to be seen is whether or not the teams and riders will be offered more than just a few, simple choices like Soft and Hard - maybe a Medium? Perhaps, and this is only a wish, we will once again see healthy competition within the category, but for now this is looking to be the last race for Michelin . . . .
In the 250 series, many teams have opted to close citing sponsorship difficulties, and more pragmatically and to the point, they have opted to close because there is no sense in continued investment and development in the 250cc two-stroke when the series will be switching to a "hybrid" 600cc four-stroke incarnation in 2010. Who wants to spend millions of Euros to race for a neutered cup? At last count, many paddock insiders believe there will be 14 bikes on the grid next season, which is even less than in MotoGP. However, I am aware that several riders and sponsors are looking to put together some last minute deals, so it's very likely that this number will grow towards 20 bikes. I hope.
Which brings us to the lowly 125's. The eighth liter wonders. Want to reduce costs even more (the reasoning behind the tire move, the 250 four-stroke push)? Let's cut the feeder class a little - hopefully more riders will enter the series . . . . . if each rider is only allowed to field ONE bike. Half the mechanics and technicians in 125 are now searching for something to occupy their time with, and unfortunately there are only two new manufacturers headed into WSBK next season, Aprilia and BMW. Still, I know that some of the guys are headed over to the "OWS - Other World Series", and I wish them much success in their endeavors.
In every event, time keeps on ticking, the wheel keeps on turning, and in four days the 2008 season will be finished and 2009 begins on Monday. I'll be testing on Monday and Tuesday with current Red Bull KTM 250 Factory rider, Mika Kallio, the Finn, and also with longtime Ducati test rider, Nicola Canepa. It looks like we'll have an interesting test, and then we'll see . . . .
How about some Fresh New Music? Yeah, let's get some!